Coghlan gets Opening Day start in center

Coghlan gets Opening Day start in center

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Chris Coghlan is back in a familiar spot, being in the Opening Day lineup. This time, the 27-year-old will be hitting in the second spot, instead of leading off.

The National League Rookie of the Year in 2009, Coghlan will be starting in center field in Monday's opener at Washington.

Manager Mike Redmond said on Sunday, the plan, at least early on, is to go with matchups in center field.

The Nationals are starting right-hander Stephen Strasburg on Monday. So going with the left-handed hitting Coghlan was an easy decision. On Wednesday, lefty Gio Gonzalez will be pitching, and Redmond plans on starting Justin Ruggiano that day.

"We'll see how it goes," Redmond said. "I would say, right now, Ruggiano will probably play against Gio in Game 2. Those guys, we'll probably platoon them for now, and see who steps up."

Coghlan was in the Opening Day lineup in 2010 and 2011. A year ago, he made the Marlins out of camp as a backup.

"If one of them, obviously, takes off, then they are going to get the bulk of the playing time," Redmond said. "That's where we're at. We're looking for somebody to spark our offense, and that's one position where we need some offense."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter